On 28 April a party of Society members enjoyed an evening at the Carriageworks Theatre in Leeds city centre to watch a performance of Priestley’s one-Act play The Rose and Crown, presented by Leeds Arts Centre under the direction of Society member Ken Taylor (whom we were very pleased to meet for the first time). We were joined by Martin Foreman of Arbery Productions of Edinburgh, who had directed the play at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe and who, post-performance in the comfort of the theatre’s bar, provided us with a fascinating insight into the different ways he had staged the play. We were delighted that Martin joined the Society and that he expressed the hope of visiting us again.
The Rose and Crown, one of five one-Act plays written by Priestley, first saw the light of day in 1946 as a production for BBC Television, shortly after its reappearance following the end of the Second World War. It is, in its modest way, something of a morality, in which a group of working-class customers in the North London public house of the title discuss their daily lives. All but one of them tend towards the sort of dissatisfaction with life that was understandable at the time, when peace had not brought all that much of an improvement in their lot. The odd one out, however, has a more positive outlook and when a mysterious stranger appears claiming to be a sort of Angel of Death who is seeking one of the group to sacrifice his or her life the cheerful character volunteers. The risk of morbidity is saved by Priestley keeping the tone of the play light and it is interesting to the extent of revealing that he once more is not short of ideas in portraying the tensions inherent in human existence.
The play was coupled with another one-Act play, After Midnight – Before Dawn by David Campton.
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